Neil Callan’s fine run of form has fired him into contention for the coveted final spot in the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship and at Happy Valley on Wednesday (25 November) night he will attempt to seal his place from five rides in the eight races left to play out.
The Irishman has bagged three doubles for six wins from his last four race meetings to leap-frog his rivals and occupy the coveted sixth spot designated to Hong Kong-based riders. He and Vagner Borges each have 11 wins for the term but Callan has the edge over the Brazilian on a countback with 12 seconds to Borges’ six.
“If we get through tomorrow night and we get some luck, or nobody else gets an advantage on me and the results stays the same, then hopefully I’ll be happy. If it does happen, it does: if it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” Callan said.
This year, the Hong Kong Jockey Club elected for a half-and-half split of competitors in the 12-jockey competition on 9 December. Six jockeys from overseas and six based in Hong Kong will vie for the most lucrative jockeys’ challenge winner’s cheque in the world – HK$500,000 – and Callan, along with Alexis Badel who sits fifth in the local premiership, could join Zac Purton, Joao Moreira, Karis Teetan and Vincent Ho as Hong Kong’s representatives.
“I’ve been here so long with my family and Hong Kong has been so good to us that the meaning of it would be a little different than it was before – but what will be will be,” Callan said.
“I represented Ireland quite a years ago as an international jockey but if I was able to represent Hong Kong, especially having been here for so long and had quite a lot of success here, it would mean a little bit more – it’d be nice to take part.”
Callan first participated in a LONGINES IJC in 2008, representing his home country, but this time he would be on the home side if successful, by virtue of having relocated full-time to what is arguably the world’s most competitive circuit ahead of the 2014/15 season.